Dolphin Tale Movie Review: What’s Not to Like?

It has everything a good movie should: a kid with an obstacle to overcome, family values, a positive portrayal of home-schooling, a guy who grew up on a sailboat, a marine mammal who survives against all odds, a still-hot Harry Connick, Jr., and a happy ending— all based on a true story! Very rarely do we take our kids to see a movie, but our recent outing to the theater to see Dolphin Tale made me glad we made an exception.

I thought for sure they would ruin the “true” in “based on a true story” and that it could be nothing but cheesy, but I was wrong. From un-pretentious scenes filmed at the actual Clearwater Marine Aquarium to a focus on friendship and family, this movie was warm and genuine. It was heart-rending at times, and funny at times. In short, it is worth going out to see. Better yet, go to Clearwater and see the dolphin with the prosthetic tail and be inspired first-hand.

We first met Winter, the dolphin who stars as herself in the movie, at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium about seven years ago. We were frequent visitors to the humble facility. Once, when Eli was visiting with his grandmother, he leaned a little too far over the sting-ray touch tank and accidentally fell in. He came home wearing a “Winter” shirt. We were visiting one day when a team of scientists were studying the latest iteration of their prosthesis. Dr. Somebody-or-Other patiently explained the process to our children and answered their questions .(I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Morgan Freeman.) It was so gratifying to see the end result of the hard work of those scientists, staff, and volunteers on the big screen! And the Clearwater Marine Aquarium will finally have the attention—and hopefully the funds—of movie-goers everywhere who want a first-hand experience with Winter the dolphin.  More information available at